New evacuation alert for area east of Highway 97, north of 100 Mile House

Forest Grove, Lac la Hache, Canim Lake among effected areas

11:08 p.m. update. There is a new evacuation alert for parts of the CRD’s Area G and H.

“It’s just to get people to prepare in case they need to leave,” says Richmond.

The area extends east of Highway 97 from 100 Mile House to Lac La Hache; east along Timothy Lake Road to the southern boundary of School House Lake Provincial Park; east to and including the community of Eagle Creek; south to Hathaway Lake including Canim Lake and Drewery Lake; and west to 100 Mile House. Hathaway Lake is excluded from this alert.

The alert includes the communities of Forest Grove and the western part of Canim Lake.

The RCMP is also asking private citizens attempting to suppress spot fires along Canim Hendrix road to stop immediately, according to the Cariboo Regional District (CRD).

“Someone is going to get hurt,” says CRD Chair Al Richmond.

He says people with shovels were attempting to help with fire suppression efforts.

The RCMP asks that suppression activities be left to trained fire crews.

Related: 100 Mile House under evacuation order

“Evacuations are well underway,” says Richmond. “If people do want to get Emergency Social Services they have to go to Prince George. There is no capacity to handle them in Kamloops. If they wish to go to Vancouver or elsewhere on their own, that’s fine, but if they want the gas assistance from the provincial government ESS services, they have to go to Prince George.”

An email from Margo Wagner, CRD Area H director, says that Interior Roads and the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure will be assisting drivers wishing to leave tonight via South Canim Road with directions at each junction.

“Drive careful. Stay safe,” she says.

Richmond does say that no new evacuations are anticipated through the night.

8:00 p.m. update: According to Fire Information Officer Heather Rice, while the Gustafsen Fire did jump Highway 97 at the 103 earlier today, it was a “just a little jump.”

“They ended up calling it and it was extinguished,” she says.

While the fire remains at approximately 5,000 hectares, having stayed steady for the past two days, Rice says that crews continue to make good progress on the south side of the fire and that the fire is still holding to the west.

Night crews and structural fire fighters will be working on the fire to the north throughout the night.

“We will know more in the morning after the night crews come in and tell us how it progressed,” she says.

Highway 97 remains closed 2 km north of 100 Mile House at the Canim-Hendrix intersection to Lac la Hache and Highway 1 is closed south of Clinton.

Safe passage out of 100 Mile House is available through Highway 24 to Highway 5.

6:36 p.m. update: The main part of the Gustafsen fire has not jumped the highway, says Heather Rice, BC Wildfire Information Officer.

A “very small spot fire” on the east side of the highway has been put out, she says.

5:48 p.m. update: The fire has jumped the highway at 103 Mile according to Heather Rice, Information Officer for the Gustafsen fire.

“Fire crews are doing their best there.”

She says that winds continue to be the primary issue for the fire.

“I see they’re starting to pick up yet again.”

Winds are currently moving from the south away from 100 Mile House.

“100 Mile is still good and we will just keep our eyes on what is happening,” she says.

4:45 p.m. update: A number of homes have burned down as a result of the Gustafsen fire.

“There have been structures lost but we don’t have a count,” says Cariboo Regional District chair Al Richmond. “I don’t even have a number.”

“They’re fighting the fire to stop it from jumping the highway at 103 Mile.”

Highway 97 is closed in both directions 2 km north of 100 Mile House to Lac la Hache due to extreme fire behaviour, according to Drive BC.

11:50 a.m. update: The size of the Gustafsen fire is now estimated to be 5,000 hectares, says Heather Rice, Information Officer for the Gustafsen fire, adding that it’s simply a better estimate and that the fire hasn’t grown substantially in the last day or so.

There are 120 firefighters, 14 helicopters, 30 pieces of equipment and an incident management team working on it.

“I think it remained relatively calm overnight, I haven’t heard of any significant changes.”

According to Rice, they’re also planning a burn off (or controlled burn) within the fire perimeter to focus on the forest fuels around the West Frazer and Norbord work sites and to strengthen the southern guard where it’s safer to work. They’re also focussing their efforts on the east to protect residential areas and the highway 97 corridor.

Evacuations remain in effect for 103 Mile, 108 Mile, 105 Mile and the western part of Lac la Hache.

Highway 97 remains open, according to Drive BC.

Police have asked vehicles to avoid pulling over along the highway through 103 Mile to 108 Mile. Roadblocks remain in place for roads into the evacuated communities.